Crescent-shaped Santorini (or Thíra), the precious gem of the Aegean, is actually a group of islands consisting of Thíra, Thirassiá, Asproníssi, Palea and Nea Kaméni in the southernmost part of Cyclades. Cousteau looked for the lost city of Atlantis here. On Santorini.
Did you know that the whole complex of Santorini islands is still an active volcano (the same as Méthana, Mílos and Nísiros) and probably the only volcano in the world whose crater is in the sea? The islands that form Santorini came into existence as a result of intensive volcanic activity; twelve huge eruptions occurred, one every 20,000 years approximately, and each violent eruption caused the collapse of the volcano’s central part creating a large crater (caldera). The volcano, however, managed to recreate itself over and over again.
The last big eruption occurred 3,600 years ago (during the Minoan Age), when igneous material (mainly ash, pumice and lava stones) covered the three islands (Thíra, Thirassiá and Asproníssi). The eruption destroyed the thriving local prehistoric civilization, evidence of which was found during the excavations of a settlement at Akrotíri. The solid material and gases emerging from the volcano’s interior created a huge “vacuum” underneath, causing the collapse of the central part and the creation of an enormous “pot” – today’s Caldera – with a size of 8×4 km and a depth of up to 400m below sea level.
The eruption of the submarine volcano Kolúmbo, located 6.5 km. NE of Santorini, on 27th September 1650, was actually the largest recorded in Eastern Mediterranean during the past millennium! The most recent volcanic activity on the island occurred in 1950. The whole island is actually a huge natural geological/volcanological museum where you can observe a wide range of geological structures and forms!
Santorini is an inexhaustible gold mine of captivating secrets waiting to be discovered. Whether you opt for an adventurous exploration on your own or a tour by experienced guides, we will help you indulge in the island’s unique ambiance.
- Car Rentals: We can arrange car rentals and offer you maps and directions so that you may explore the island and all 14 of its villages on your own.
- Boat Trips: Organised boat trips depart every day from the Vlyhada Port of Fira to the volcanic islands; we do however recommend private boat trips with SantoCruise. Attached, please find an itinerary already prepared for you but feel free to contact the front desk for alternative excursions and other suggestions. SantoCruise can arrange daily cruises to nearby islands.
- Private Tour Guides: If you do not want to explore the island on your own, multi-lingual and knowledgeable guides are at your service with SantoTour. They will plan a customised private tour of the island’s top attractions and sites for an adventure-filled or leisurely day, always according to your desires and instructions.
- Winery Visits: You should not leave Santorini without visiting at least one winery. We recommend to arrange a tour with SantoTour for a visit a Winery outside Fira -an old traditional family winery that produces some of the most renowned wines.
Our concierge will help you decide which of the island’s top destinations are worth visiting depending on the days you have at your disposal and your special interests.
- Pyrgos: A picturesque village boasting some fine old houses, the remains of a Venetian castle on the hilltop and several Byzantine churches is definitely worth a visit in order to experience the island’s famous architecture.
- Oia: The village of Oia is internationally renowned for the sunsets best viewed from its castle. However, you should avoid the overcrowded castle during high season and instead opt for a stroll through its picturesque alleys, lined with beautiful boutiques, cafes and restaurants.
- Ammoudi: Late lunch or early dinner. A simple meal with fresh local ingredients next to fishing boats will mesmerise you with its couleur local and charming ambiance.
- Perissa: One of the most popular beaches on the island. The unique black lava sand and clear deep blue waters are the main attraction, as well as a big selection of water sports.
- Perivolos: Black sand beach with a lot of tavernas and beach bars. Sport facilities are also available.
- Vlyhada: This beach is a perfect spot for those wishing to avoid the crowds. A long black beach fringed with yellow cliffs weathered into bizarre formations.
- Kamari: 14km long beach, the island’s most popular beach.
- Red beach: Soaring red lava cliffs drop right down to the black sandy shore and into the clear blue sea making for a majestic setting that will leave you spellbound. A breathtaking setting for a swim!
- White beach: Though only accessible by boat, you should not miss the opportunity to experience its incredible beauty from up close!
Santorini is an island with a great history that is wonderfully exhibited in its museums and archaeological sites. You must not miss out on the following:
- Akrotiri Excavations: Located at the southern end of Santorini, the ancient excavation site of Akrotiri is a must-see as it is the best preserved of all the prehistoric settlements discovered in the Aegean. Archaeologists have unearthed a major prehistoric town buried by a volcanic eruption where they discovered multi-storey houses decorated with wonderful frescoes featuring a great collection of ceramics and other findings, linking this site to the contemporaneous civilisations of Crete, Greece, Anatolia, Cyprus, the Levant and Egypt.
- Ancient Thera: The second important period in the history of Santorini is linked to the city of Ancient Thera; this unique location on the top of Messa Vouno Mountain, between Kamari and Perissa, offers sweeping views of the South-eastern Aegean from a height of 369 metres. Excavations have brought the ruins of a town to light, which bore evidence of settlement as early as the 9th century BC.
- Museum of Pre-historic Thera, Fira: The most exciting holding of this new museum is the collection of wall paintings from ancient Akrotiri, which were recently returned to Santorini from their previous home at the National Archaeological Museum in Athens. Two of these are currently on display, along with many findings from Akrotiri and objects imported from Crete and the North-eastern Aegean Islands.
- Santozeum – The wall paintings of Akrotiri, Fira: This exhibition features copies of the wall paintings from ancient Akrotiri, created using a sophisticated technique of three-dimensional photographic reproduction that closely approximates the originals. Housed within a recently refurbished residence by Greek architect Constantinos Decavallas, this museum is an exhibit space that unites family heritage and involvement in the artistic traditions of the island, with a vision to create a cultural movement that exposes artists to the island and commissions new works inspired by Santorini.
Santorini is considered to be the most sought after place for a romantic getaway in Greece, since there are not many places in the world where you can enjoy exquisitely clear waters while perched on the rim of a massive active volcano in the middle of the sea!
The island has a growing reputation as a “wedding destination” for couples not only from Greece but from all over the world. A trip to Santorini with the other half is a dream for anyone who has seen at least one photo of the island’s famous Caldera and exchanging kisses beneath Santorini’s famous sunset is the ultimate romantic experience!